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The BRICS and R2P : contestation, re-interpretation and norm entrepreneurship

  • Garwood-Gowers, Andrew
Publication Date
Aug 21, 2014
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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The intra-state humanitarian crises in Libya and Syria have led to renewed debate over the content and implementation of pillar three of the responsibility to protect (R2P). This paper examines the BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) current perspectives on R2P and their recent efforts to shape the concept’s evolution. While Brazil’s “Responsibility while Protecting” (RwP) proposal has been widely discussed, the central focus here is on the lesser-known, semi-official Chinese idea of “Responsible Protection” (RP). Like RwP, RP proposes decision-making criteria and accountability mechanisms for UN-authorised military intervention under R2P’s third pillar. This paper argues that although RP draws heavily on previous R2P proposals such as the original 2001 ICISS report and Brazil’s RwP, by amalgamating and re-packaging these earlier ideas in a more restrictive form the Chinese initiative represents a new and distinctive interpretation of R2P. However, as it currently stands, some aspects of RP appear to be framed too strictly to provide workable guidelines for determining the permissibility of R2P military intervention, and would, therefore, benefit from clarification and refinement. Of broader significance, China’s RP and Brazil’s RwP initiatives point to the growing willingness of rising, non-Western powers to articulate and promote their own normative preferences on sovereignty, intervention and global governance. This development has potential implications both for R2P’s evolution and for the structure of the international system.

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